Chicago-Based Water Resources Engineer Dies at 70

Peter Alastair Dickson, an international geologist and water resources engineer who worked for more than 40 years for an employee-owned consulting company based in Chicago, has died. He was 70.

headshot of Dickson

With a worldly intellect and an aptitude for languages, his overseas work came naturally. Dickson, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE, was born in Grootfontein, Namibia, to a nurse and a mining engineer. He followed a lifelong interest in geology and the life-sciences to Leeds University, in the UK, where he met his wife. The two moved to Pittsburgh in January 1975 so that Peter could complete his doctorate in geology and conduct postdoctorate research and teaching.

In 1978 he joined Harza Engineering, where he specialized in water resources engineering that took him into service around the world. He spent the next 40-plus years working on projects mainly in various remote and mountainous regions, where water scarcity and value is of extreme significance. Sometimes his wife and two children would join him.

Dickson was proud of his career working on world-class dam and hydro projects around the globe. Many will miss the stories he was known for. He would tell of his efforts on the Panama Canal expansion, his participation on the world’s largest hydro-pumped storage projects, and of serving on prestigious panels of experts, among them an independent forensic team which investigated the Oroville Dam Spillway incident in California.

Outside of his professional life, he was an enthusiastic outdoorsman, artist, writer and devoted family man. Drawing on his travels internationally, he could always bring to an evening’s gathering an extra culinary flair. He also coached in a local soccer league.


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